I confess to being a little baffled by this easements story re: Fox's, Turner's, and Crampton's Gaps ("South Mountain" geographically speaking).

Puzzler the first: "Last week, the national Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) released its annual report on the most threatened battlefields in the country. South Mountain State Battlefield ­, 2,500 acres of public property straddling the Frederick-Washington county line ­, is the only Maryland site to make the list this year."

A "State Battlefield" (lovely designation) is not to be confused - ever - with "State Battlefield Park." It's the virtual deal.

This "2,500 acres of public property" exists on paper, perhaps, or in someone's mind. Perhaps they are factoring in the nature hiking trails around Gathland park (should be named Crampton's Gap park, but Gathland speaks to so many more people, doesn't it?).

Puzzler the second: "The trust named South Mountain to the list because of the possibility that private property not protected by preservation easements could be lost forever to developers' shovels."

How is private property lost forever? It is sold and resold. Land is only lost forever when an immortal entity like the state buys it and then warehouses it; or when a state multipurposes a battlefield as has tragically happened at Crampton's Gap. It is also lost when covenants mandate the land be kept in a non-battlefield state (such as farm or nature preserve) and when covenants permit visitors be kept off.

Puzzler the third: "...when you get up into to the foothills of the South Mountain area along Frostown Road, Mount Tabor Road and Reno Monument Road, the zoning would still permit additional houses."

So will covenants, based on how they are negotiated.

Stop buying easements. Get serious and buy the land. Make a battlefield.